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Gunnar Björnsson: Judgment and certitude for non-cognitivists (and everyone else)

When:We 18-12-2019 15:15 - 17:00
Where:Room Omega

Colloquium lecture by Gunnar Björnsson (Stockholm), organized by the Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

According to non-cognitivists about judgments of positive, negative, and neutral value, such judgments are non-cognitive attitudes of favoring, disfavoring, and indifference, respectively. The most famous problem for this sort of view—the Frege-Geach problem—is that these attitudes lack the kind of structure needed to make systematic sense of compositionality and inferential relations involving these judgments. My primary focus in this talk will be on the related but somewhat less famous problem of insufficient structure. Judgments of value can vary both with respect to the magnitude of positive or negative value attributed to an object and with respect to the degree of certitude of that attribution. By contrast, it seems that attitudes of favoring, disfavoring, or indifference only vary in one corresponding dimension—the strength of favoring and disfavoring involved.

In this talk, I suggest that this problem of insufficient structure might be solved by extending a partial solution to the Frege-Geach problem to the problem of normative certitude. Elsewhere I have argued that a proper general account of acceptance and rejection in acts of judgment makes sense of negation in evaluative and non-evaluative domains alike, without ad hoc assumptions. Here I propose that a corresponding account of partial acceptance and rejection might similarly make sense of degrees of certainty across all domains.

Gunnar Björnsson is Professor in Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University. He coordinated the Gothenburg Responsibility Project from its inception in 2011 until 2015. His current research project, Explanations of Responsibility, is funded by the SRC and is concerned with developing a general theory of moral responsibility and the psychology of responsibility attributions. Most of his research interests fall into metaethics, moral psychology, naturalized theories of cognition, philosophy of language, and moral responsibility. In metaethics, his main interests have been moral disagreement and the relation between moral judgment and moral motivation, and what these tell us about the nature of moral judgment. He has published widely in journals such as Mind, Nous and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Björnsson is one of the PhD committee members and in that role, he will be present at Lieuwe Zijlstra's PhD defence on Thursday 19 December.